Thursday, April 17, 2008

Catholic universities need to remain faithful to the Church's teaching...

(Brendan)

As a close follower of the state of Catholic higher education in the U.S., and the deep problem of Catholic identity at the majority of Catholic Universities (where "academic freedom" masquerades as the ability to allow teaching against Church doctrine in the classroom and the undermining of Church authority), I was so very glad that the Pope said the following in his address to the presidents of Catholic universities today in Washington, D.C....
In regard to faculty members at Catholic colleges universities, I wish to reaffirm the great value of academic freedom. In virtue of this freedom you are called to search for the truth wherever careful analysis of evidence leads you. Yet it is also the case that any appeal to the principle of academic freedom in order to justify positions that contradict the faith and the teaching of the Church would obstruct or even betray the university's identity and mission; a mission at the heart of the Church's munus docendi and not somehow autonomous or independent of it.

Teachers and administrators, whether in universities or schools, have the duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. This requires that public witness to the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church's Magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution's life, both inside and outside the classroom. Divergence from this vision weakens Catholic identity and, far from advancing freedom, inevitably leads to confusion, whether moral, intellectual or spiritual.
Thank you Holy Father! In his ever-gentle way he has laid down the gauntlet for the future of Catholic higher education in America. If you are going to call yourself a Catholic university, you must uphold the teachings of the Church and her authority.

Closer to home, in Minnesota I can't think of one Catholic university in the state (including my alma mater, St. John's) that doesn't need to take heed of this message and make some changes to ensure fidelity to the Church. I pray that they listen and take action.

2 comments:

John Curran said...

A client of mine who was pursuing a degree in theology informed me that at the local Catholic University, her belief in the Resurrection met with amused disbelief at her naivete. I was shocked that the teachings at that school were in no way those of the Church. Happy to hear the Pope speak out against this sort of practice.

Allison Koop said...

I feel lucky to be an alum of the Catholic University of America, as well as to work here. They truly fulfill the principles extolled in the Pope's speech. Often my students get frustrated that so-and-so wasn't allowed to speak on campus because of pro-choice views, etc., but it provides a great intro for me to explain the reasoning. I think it helps that I'm close in age to many of my students. However, it's sad that because CUA carefully follows the Church's teaching, we get less alumni financial support that other schools such as, say, Georgetown.